Brigadier General John Adams, a gallant soldier was born at Nashville, July 1, 1825. His father afterward located at Pulaski, and it was from that place that young Adams entered West Point as a cadet, where he was graduated in June, 1846.
On his graduation he was commissioned second lieutenant of the First Dragoons, then serving under Gen. Philip Kearny. At Santa Cruz de Rosales, Mexico, March 16, 1848, he was brevetted first lieutenant for gallantry, and on October 9, 1851, he was commissioned first lieutenant.
In 1853 he acted as aide to the governor of Minnesota with the rank of lieutenant colonel of State forces, this position, however, not affecting his rank in the regular service. He was promoted in his regiment to the rank of captain, November;1856.
May 27, 1861, on the secession of his State, he resigned his commission in the United States army and tendered his services to the Southern Confederacy. He was first made captain of cavalry and placed in command of the post at Memphis, whence he was ordered to western Kentucky and thence to Jackson, Miss.
In 1862 he was commissioned colonel, and on December 29th was promoted to brigadier-general. On the death of Brig.-Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, May 16, 1863, Adams was placed by General Johnston in command of that officer’s brigade, comprising the Sixth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-third and Forty-third Mississippi regiments of infantry.
He was in Gen. J. E. Johnston’s campaign for the relief of Vicksburg, in the fighting around Jackson, Miss., and afterward served under Polk in that State and marched with that general from Meridian, Miss., to Demopolis, Ala., thence to Rome, GA, and forward to Resaca, where he joined the army of Tennessee.
He served with distinction in the various battles of the campaign from Dalton to Atlanta, he and his gallant brigade winning fresh laurels in the fierce battles around the “Gate City. ” After the fall of Atlanta, when Hood set out from Palmetto for his march into north Georgia in the gallant effort to force Sherman to return northward, Adams’ brigade was much of the time in advance, doing splendid service, and at Dalton capturing many prisoners.
It was the fate of General Adams, as it was of his friend and classmate at West Point, Gen. Geo. E. Pickett, to reach the height of his fame leading his men in a brilliant and desperate, but unsuccessful, charge. But he did not come off so well as Pickett; for in the terrific assault at Franklin, Adams lost his life.
Though wounded severely in his right arm near the shoulder early in the fight and urged to leave the fields he said: “No; I am going to see my men through.” He fell on the enemy’s works, pierced with nine bullets. His brigade lost on that day over 450 in killed and wounded, among them many field and line officers.
Source: Confederate Military History, vol. X, p. 285
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